It’s been a little while since I have done a loves post, and so instead of focusing on just one thing I am going to round up a few new favourites from the past couple of months!
I have a whole loads of hair on my head. Loads of it. As a runner it is a total pain in the butt trying to keep it under control. I have found that a super tight french plait is the best of the bunch for keeping hair off your face for multiple miles, but then the baby hairs work their way loose and want to join the party. I have tried so many things to try and keep my hair under control. I am a loyal disciple of Boots’ non-slip non-snag little rubber hair ties – if they didn’t loosen up after you’ve used them a few times they’d be ace, but currently they are essentially a disposable item. I have never, though, found a hair band that did the trick – I’ve tried different sports brands, beauty brands, widths, styles…they all seem to slip off, or give me a headache with their unrelenting head pressure.
Here’s the 1/2inch non-slip headband
Halo Headbands clearly telepathically felt my pain and sent me a couple of their headbands to try out. One a magical thick band designed to stop sweat running in to your eyes, the other a little skinny band designed to keep your hair up and away from your face without slippage. I’ve given both a run for their money and can said that I am suitably impressed with each of them. They’re comfortable, come in nice colours and do exactly what they promise to do. I particularly love the non-slip headband – I barely noticed I was wearing it (no too-tight-headband headache) and it kept my wild hair firmly in its place. I love the colour selections too – not just pink, but pink if you want it! I went for teal and blue. Highly recommended.
You can buy Halo Headbands over on their website, and I have also seen them for sale at various running expos!
TRX AT HEARTCORE
A little while ago Heartcore, a boutique chain of Pilates classes based in various locations in West London, invited me to try out one of their classes. I have been desperate to have a proper go at TRX since what feels like the dawn of time and so jumped at the chance. I went to an early class with some of the ladies from the Sweaty Betty team at Heartcore’s newest studio in Fulham and enjoyed it immensely.
The TRX studio in Fulham (photo courtesy of the Heartcore Facebook page)
The class is definitely not the faint hearted. I felt absolutely shattered towards the end (I don’t tend to do well in the early AM without breakfast at the best of times!) and had serious DOMS all over for a good few days afterwards. Our instructor was encouraging and informative without being patronising or pushing us too hard – a fine balance to strike – and I felt like he responded well to the group’s experience. The instruction was intuitive and definitely didn’t feel like a cut and paste class (i.e. cutting back on the burpees when it was clear we were all on the brink of vomming). The studio is lush and new and the bathrooms are beautiful. A lovely little luxe studio offering great classes.
TRX classes are currently offered in Heartcore’s Fulham and Chealsea studios (check the timetable for exact details) and they’re offering a free trial class when you register! A no-brainer, ey?
THE CHIA CO
I’ve heard a whole load about chia seeds but never really understood why everyone was wigging out about them. In early July Australian company The Chia Co invited me to their summer garden party and I went along to find out more about these little seeds. Turns out that chia seeds are full of omega-3, fibre and protein, containing all 8 essential amino acids. A tablespoon provides 100% of your daily omega-3 ALA, 25% of your daily recommended fibre intake and nearly 10% of your calcium, magnesium and iron intake (all essential for active women).
Pretty impressive little guys.
On their own I find them pretty tasteless with a nice crunch, so they’re perfect for sprinkling on all sorts of things to gain lots of nutritional kudos without having to suffer through ingesting it (“greens” drinks I am looking at you). I’ve had them on salad, in sweet potato mash, in scrambled eggs, on top of granola, with yoghurt and fruit…lots of different ways! And I have felt very smug about it the whole time.
The Chia Co sell Chia Shots (small individual serving size tubes of chia seeds) and a new Oats + Chia ‘Porridge’ (a blend of oats, chia, powdered coconut milk and fruit bits), both of which are perfect for putting in your bag or desk drawer. The Oats are ready in a minute and pretty yummy – a great easy healthy breakfast option. They also do single-serve chia puddings – Chia Pods – which are more of an acquired taste due to the texture. The banana flavour is pretty banana-y – the mango one is much better if you ask me.
At the garden party the founder of The Chia Co, John Foss, spoke to us about his background as a farmer in Australia and his desire to produce food that would benefit the people eating it and benefit the health of consumers worldwide. He was a passionate and genuine speaker and his love for healthy, natural food really came across. I loved the background of the company and love their ethos of wanting to make a positive contribution to public health. They also threw a mean garden party with excellent Pimms. I like them, and I think you should too.
Other cool stuff:
The Nike Lunarglide was my first proper running shoe. My family clubbed together a bought me a pair of Nike iD Lunarglide 3s in my favourite nautical colours. They took me through my first half (Run to the Beat 2011!) and I’ve run consistently in Lunarglides ever since. I had a pink pair of Lunarglide 4, then three pairs of Lunarglide 5. OK, so it got out of hand.
My absolute favourite ever pair of running shoes were my navy, red and white Lunarglide 5s. They were a kids colourway and I never saw anyone else with them. They were ridiculously comfortable and saw me round pretty much every race I ran between June 2012 and March 2014, when I retired them in Dubai. They say you’re supposed to cover 500 miles or so in a pair of running shoes before they’re kaput – I reckon I covered at least triple that in these before finally admitting I had to let them go. I could have cried!
Anyway, I stalked myself on instagram and have pulled out a handful of adventures me and my favourite shoes went on together.
Exploring in Ireland
My first (and only!) triathlon
The Lexie Sessions with Fitness Playground
The Dubai Marathon
At the top of the tallest mountain in Dibba, Oman, after climbing 1000m from the beach
The Paris Half, 2013
Kicking it in Dubai, where (hopefully) these have made their way to a new home
Shoe: Nike Lunarglide
Type: Road running shoe, suitable for neutral runners and over pronators. Medium cushioning.
Features: The Lunarglide 5 (the most recent update) has flywire support to hold the middle of the foot in place and combat pronation. They’re also lightweight and flexible, with a single layer upper mesh for ventilation. The 5 is my favourite version as they feel light, but also provide the cushioning and support that I feel I need for running serious road miles.
Fit: A half size up will do nicely – a whole size is too much for me. The sides are very flexible, and so suitable for all foot widths.
Looks: The reason I was attracted to Nike trainers when I first started running (and knew nothing about running shoes) was their looks. Nike have it down. Having run in other brands recently I am definitely being converted away from being an all-Nike runner, but I think Nike are still the design queens.
Price: £90 from Nike, but the various models and previous seasons colours are available from other outlets for less – try Wiggle and Achilles Heel.
Best bits: Light, supportive, comfortable. Sexy.
Worst bits: I can’t afford to buy all the colours.
Overall verdict: All time running hero for my past 4.5 years worth of running adventures. Lunarglides, I salute you.
What are your all time favourite pair of running shoes? Ever had a pair you wore to death, and then a little bit more? Share – I won’t judge.
Other Lunarglide hall of fame moments include…
Lunarglide 4 for my first marathon in Brighton, 2013
Lunarglide 5 for the first ever We Own The Night London in 2013
My first ever pair of proper running shoes, Nike iD Lunarglide 3, for my first ever half in 2011.
Other cool stuff:
Training shoes. Are they necessary? This is my only pair of training specific shoes – previously I’ve only had running shoes and have done my other training (weights etc.) in those. I found this fine and have never really felt any need to have trainers specifically for strength and conditioning.
About a year ago I was invited by Nike to a rooftop workout to test out their new training shoe, the Nike Free Bionic. Ever since then I have worn these shoes pretty regularly to do non-running training; I recently wore them to an intense TRX session at the new Heartcore studio in Fulham and a Barry’s Bootcamp beasting with Nike. I find them comfortable and flexible and so they make a pretty regular appearance on my own personal workout scene. I do, however, think they’re a luxury addition though, and would probably be perfectly happy training in runners.
Shoe: Nike Free Bionic
Type: Cross training shoe, barefoot minimal style.
Features: Thin flexible sole, with multi-directional grooves so that the shoes flex in whichever direction your workout takes. Running shoes usually have soles suited only to front/back movements, and these are designed to be suitable for more dynamic workouts.
Fit: I have these in my normal shoe size and they’re a perfect fit.
Looks: I think these look great, and top off a stylish gym outfit perfectly.
Price: The upgraded version of the Free Bionics are £80.
Best bits: Very comfortable, very stylish. Minimal sole is great for weight training.
Worst bits: No complaints from me!
Overall verdict: All round great, if not strictly necessary in my personal opinion. What do you think – are cross training shoes a necessity or a luxury? Can you recommend any other styles?
Other cool stuff:
I have heard a lot about the Saucony Kinvara. It’s pretty much a cult shoe. Adoring fans, worldwide, who just cannot get enough of the Kinvara. I know that a lot of Kinvara fans were disappointed with the Kinvara 4 update, and lots were waiting for the Kinvara 5 to drop to see whether it brought back all the wonderful Kinvara-ness that made runners go nuts.
Well, that Kinvara 5 update has now dropped, and I was one of the lucky few to get my mitts on a pair of limited edition London Marathon Kinvara 5s, a whole month before their general release date. As a running geek, this was Christmas come early, rolled in to my birthday and the Easter four day mega weekend of dreams.
Not only did Saucony very kindly gift me with these beauties, they also set me a challenge. In the spirit of their Neal Street pop-up, which showcased the history of Saucony running shoes right back to the very beginning, they also sent me a pair of Saucony Jazz Originals along with a challenge. Run in both and compare the two – how far have running shoes come since the Saucony Jazz was the shoe of choice for the discerning runner? This challenge was (obviously) accepted.
Old vs New
Old vs New
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara 5
Type: Road running shoe – lightweight, good for speed and racing.
Features: The Kinvara 5 has a new breathable mesh upper, which Saucony say is more flexible and durable than previous Kinvara models. It also has pro-lock technology fit, which provides enhanced fit and flexibility. Having not tried the previous Kinvara models I cannot draw a comparison, but I find them very comfortable and supportive while still being very lightweight.
Fit: I found these ever so ever so slightly on the snug side. I have them a half size up and would probably have preferred a whole size, but they have been giving with wear so I reckon they’ll settle in to the perfect size as we rack up more miles together. If you have wide feet like me you may find them a little narrow.
Looks: Not the usual style I’d go for but I actually really like these. I think they look great on and I love the special London Marathon design – especially the bright neon sole. They’re quite slim and sleek and I think they’re pretty stylish. I love the gold bits – anything gold is fine by me.
Price: These beauties are £95.
Best bits: I love how lightweight these are and feel super speedy when I go out running in them. The longest I’ve taken these out for is about 8 miles and I found them really comfortable, but I will have to see how the measure up to double digits!
Worst bits: A little narrow for me, otherwise I really can’t fault them. A wonderful shoe!
Overall verdict: A really great lightweight road running shoe.
1 of just 500 London Marathon special edition Kinvara 5s!
Shoe: Saucony Jazz Originals
Type: Old school runners. Now mainly worn by cool dudes in East London. And me – an uncool dude in East London.
Features: Thick rigid soles! And old school styling. And that’s about it.
Fit: About right.
Looks: Pretty cool if you’re in to retro runners.
Best bits: Looks!
Worst bits: Wouldn’t recommend running in them.
Overall verdict: It felt pretty strange to run in these, especially compared to the brand spanking new Kinvara 5! The soles are very thick and inflexible and I definitely missed modern cushioning and support! All in all, I am pleased that Saucony have made such wonderful leaps and bounds in their running shoe technology. These look pretty cool with jeans though.
Other cool stuff:
Nike Frees are absolute classics. I got my first pair in 2011 after winning a running photo competition at the Stratford Nike Run Club and loved how light and flexible they were, and have loved wearing them ever since. I find that my calf muscles hurt if I run in them for much over 10k but I think that’s more my running style than anything else, as I have running friends who cover marathon distance in them and still rave about them. I also use them for training as they’re flat and light, which means they’re perfect for weight training, plyometrics and the like. My favourite all rounders.
I got my second pair of Frees last year, and then a pair of the latest lovelies about a month back as part of the Nike Free Experience.
Top: Nike Free 2+ 5.0 iD (2011)Middle: Nike Free 5.0 (2013)
Bottom: Nike Free 5+ 5.0 iD (2014)
Shoe: Nike Free 5.0 iD
Type: Minimal road running shoe. ‘Barefoot’ style.
Features: Barefoot style ultra flexible sole, with hexagonal grooves cut in to the sole for the most flexible fit in the Nike Free running series so far. I’ve always gone for the 5.0 sole, which is the thickest in the series, as I prefer to have some cushioning. The Free also has Flywire support to wrap around the middle of the foot and control pronation, although this isn’t the same level of pronation support as a traditional supportive cushioned shoe – these are definitely minimalist barefoot shoes.
Progression of Nike Free sole, from left to right. Furthest right is
Flywire support – and a jazzy iD chevron swoosh!
Fit: I have pretty wide feet and have always found the Free a bit narrow so this time around I opted for the wide fit option and I am so glad I did! These feel a lot roomier and are still comfortable even after 10k or so of foot expansion, and so if you have wide feet I can definitely recommend the wide fit option. Size wise, these are spot on. I have a half size up from my normal size and find this perfect.
Looks: Fit. Especially my candy coloured iD handiwork, even if I do say so myself! In all seriousness, Nike are known for their design and the Frees are some of the sleekest of the lot. Plus, you can get your name on them. I love putting my name on stuff.
Price: The Nike Free 5.0 iD cost £120. Non-iD Nike Free 5.0 cost £90. They’re also available (in iD and non-iD) as flyknit, but I haven’t tried these.
Best bits: The looks are definitely a big seller and I love the new range of iD options, such a patterned swooshes and laces, choice of flyknit and the wide range of colours you can mix and match. They’re also very light and comfortable for a wide range of activities.
Worst bits: I over-pronate slightly and find that these don’t offer enough support to run for long distances (I once ran 10 miles in a pair of Frees and my calf muscles hated me) but this is definitely personal to your own running style. My latest iDs also don’t have Nike+ technology integration (there’s no room for a shoe pod) but I think this is because of Nike’s rumoured divestment of their entire tech division rather than a default in the shoe.
Overall verdict: Perfect for running shorter distances and all round fitness training. And looking like a mega stylish babe.
A big thank you to Exposure PR for inviting me to design my own shiny new iDs. I was given these free of charge but all opinions are my own!